Author: Kavita Daswani
Date of Publication: January 17, 2012
Genre: YA contemporary fiction
Rating: 4 Crowns
When Shalini’s father gets a new job in L.A., she is torn away from her life in India and the boy to whom she’s been betrothed since she was three. L.A. is so different, and Shalini dresses and talks all wrong. She isn’t sure she’ll survive high school in America without her fiancé, Vikram, and now she has to cope with her mom’s homesickness and depression. A new friend, chill and confident Renuka, helps Shalini find her way and get up the courage to join the Food4Life club at school. But she gets more than just a friend when she meets Toby—she gets a major crush. Shalini thinks she loves Vikram, but he never made her feel like this.
In Lovetorn, Shalini discovers that your heart ultimately makes its own choices, even when it seems as if your destiny has already been chosen.
Author Kavita Daswani has always been fascinated by child marriages and betrothals, and this story of a traditional girl from India, who is exposed to so many more freedoms and experiences after being dropped in a completely alien culture, is a fresh and contemporary look at the subject.
Lovetorn on the surface sounds like a romance with a love triangle however the novel focuses more on Shalini and her family than on romantic relationships. Toby doesn't even appear until more than halfway through the story. When he does show up, he does not make enough of an impression. Readers who pick up this book solely for the romantic aspect might find themselves disappointed but I am glad that the author chose to spend so much time on other things. The portrayal of the culture shock and the adjustments her family must make are well portrayed. I liked seeing how Shalini grew and changed from the dutiful girl she was in India to someone who makes her own decisions.
Readers may not agree with arranged marriages for children but the author does a good job of making sure it is written with sensitivity. I also liked how Vikram was not painted as a bad option. He genuinely cares for Shalini and loves her. The immigrant experience is central to the novel and I think it was depicted believably with both the exciting opportunities as well as the fears and the struggles to fit in. I was also pleased with the ending which felt realistic. The one weakness of the book is Shalini's relationship with Toby. It might serve as an important catalyst in Shalini's growth as a person but it seemed like instant infatuation and I didn't like seeing Shalini become so boy crazy for Toby after months of pining for Vikram. Thankfully the strengths of the novel outweighed the weaknesses for me. I would suggest this to fans of Neesha Meminger, Anjali Banerjee, and Mitali Perkins.
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Note: I read an ARC of this book courtesy of Around the World ARC Tours in exchange for an honest review